resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
March, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 03
The Inside-Out Paradigm: Equalizing the Pressure
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Read Dale's previous article, "Healing From the Core: A New Paradigm," Parts 1 & 2, in the Sept. and Oct. 2004 issues of Massage Today at: www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/09/20.html and www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/10/04.html.
This article will explore a few of the many elements of anatomy and physiology that are fundamental to the proposed paradigm of working from the "inside-out." My first article, "Healing From the Core: A New Paradigm," postulated three core elements that assist the healing process:
The centerpiece of this paradigm is simply to work with how the body maintains itself physiologically and proprioceptively at the same time. Most biomechanical models infer that the source of constricted vascular circulation is the result of the extrinsic musculature's battle to maintain body posture within and against the field of gravity. This is partially accurate. However, it is postulated that contraction of the visceral suspension is a more primary source of vascular congestion and that much of what throws the proprioceptive balance off in the first place is the result of how the body discharges visceral tension into the intrinsic musculature, which then affects the kinetic chain of the joints, thus placing a demand on the extrinsic musculature to contract in order to protect individual joints and the overall balance of an individual. It is a complex both/and scenario. But with further exploration, it will become clearer.
An overlooked aspect of anatomy in our work as massage therapists is that the human body has three great cavities designed to assist the movement of fluids and support the upright carriage of our human structure based on the pressure differences between them. These are the abdominal-pelvic; the thorax; and the cranium.
According to Dr. Jean-Pierre Barral, the developer of Visceral Manipulation, the pressure of the thoracic cavity in a healthy system is negative in relation to the more positive pressures within abdominal-pelvic and cranial cavities. This negative pressure also acts like a helium balloon to support our posture in the field of gravity.1
This difference in the pressure relationships between the cavities is how the efficiency of the low pressure venous and lymphatic systems is normally maintained in their job of returning their fluids back to the heart and lungs to be re-nourished and recycled. Let us remember that fluid moves from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration naturally. Thus, as one assists the body to re-establish the negative pressure within the thoracic cavity, it allows for an equalization of pressures between the cavities.
How does one tell if the thoracic pressure has become more positive with a client on your massage table? Simple palpation and soft compression of the thorax will readily indicate to you the degree of positive pressure. The less flexible the thorax, the more positive the pressure and, by inference, the slower the flow of venous and lymph return.
Within the body's three great cavities are four visceral sacs:
Each of these sacs is related to physiological waves of expansion and contraction, which are crucial to normal fluid circulation. Their rhythms support the healing process and maintain normal homeostatic regulation:
All of these rhythms are influenced by the pressure within the cavities and sacs, and by the pressure of the tubes within the sacs and by the pressure within those tubes, which pass between the sacs and cavities. Obviously, this adds emphasis to the tone and length of the esophagus, as it is the connecting tube between the cranial vault, thoracic cavity, and abdominal/pelvic cavity. It offers a release valve to the pressures, which often build up within the alimentary canal in addition to the anus at the lower end.
These rhythms are homeostatically regulated between the two divisions of the Autonomic Nervous System; the parasympathetic outflow of the vagus and pelvic splanchnic nerves and the sympathetic nerves exiting from T1-L2 of the spinal cord. It is the flexibility between these two divisions, which regulates who gets the blood thereby the oxygen and nutrients needed to support the healing process.2
How does this pressure in the tubes, sacs and cavities build in the first place? By soft-tissue contraction of the sacs and tubes of the viscera, which lessens the space for the liquids and gases within them. This internal contraction pressurizes the contents. When this pressure is unable to equalize, it builds. The building of pressure creates more soft-tissue tension. The cycle repeats again and again. The body attempts to distribute these tensions both directly and reflexively.
The theorized direct method was described in the first article: visceral tensions build, then spill over into the intrinsic musculature, which then pull on the osseous system until a dysfunction of motion is created affecting joint range of motion. This both releases some of the internal pressure, but also stimulates the extrinsic musculature to contract to protect the joints from further displacement. Inevitably, one's posture and sense of balance is also affected.
The reflexive method involves the distribution of tensions and strain through more generalized viscero-somatic reflex arcs. These relate to both segmental levels of the spinal cord and regional areas that have come to be recognized by surgeons as indicators of acute organ pathology.
What I've come to realize is that the body is organized to use the joints of the axial and appendicular skeleton in a very similar fashion to an electrical circuit-breaker system in a more modern home. Organ correlation to segmental levels of the spinal cord are referred to as spinal correspondences and are maps to the work of chiropractors and the osteopaths who directly manipulate the joints.
Regional reflex areas, such as the right shoulder/scapula area associated with liver/gall bladder congestion, stasis and disease, are referenced in some medical textbooks but are more commonly found, and their relevance more usefully described, in surgical references.3
The paradigm of working from the "inside-out" suggests that as massage therapists, we need to learn how to equalize the pressures within the tubes, sacs, and cavities of the body as a first step to assisting our clients. Additionally, knowledge of the aforementioned spinal correspondences and regional reflex areas can be invaluable for making timely and appropriate referral of our clients to medical care from the onset of working with them, or when they are not making progress.
Competent massage therapy of any orientation will assist stress-induced states of congestion to dissipate with a lessening or disappearance of the initial symptoms. When this doesn't occur, it is our ethical responsibility to encourage medical evaluation. A "well-baby" visit to a physician can be invaluable to the mental health of a client who fears something is amiss.
Stress-related problems follow the progression offered in the first article: adaptation, compensation/substitution, injury/illness, degeneration/disease. Trauma simply speeds one along the continuum. It is common for a client to have all the relevant medical tests and return for additional work as what is brewing within them has not reached the tipping point of recognizable pathology.
Now to lightly kiss the question of why stress affects some people more than others and some in particular areas, while others in totally different ways. As humans, we assign meaning to our experiences in life. We develop a complex array of positive and negative anticipations to events. We live in the models of our mind more than in the present time, experience of life unfolding moment by moment. This is the arena of consciousness and is the most powerful tool for change and evolution for ourselves and our species.
My experience professionally and personally reflects an additional existential theorem, as well: Our bodies are our vehicles for the development of consciousness, the growth of our soul and spirit, and the integration of our personality and spirit. Our bodies are where the action is happening. It embodies our confusions and terrors, our willingness and readiness for change. The body really does reflect a Map of Consciousness.4
Touch bridges time and space, and is the vehicle for re-modeling our inner landscape of attitudes, possibilities and behavior.
For those new to the profession, much of this may have been more than a mouthful, or simply tedious reading, yet it is what we are challenged to hold in our work, and there is more. It has taken years of concentrated experience and study across many disciplines to tease apart the foundational elements of anatomy and physiology to make sense of how the gestalt of the body works in relation to its dance with the psyche.
In truth, this paradigm of working from the inside-out is only the springboard for many connections that are to come in future years.
These basics, and others to follow, have consistently shown themselves to be fundamental to working with clients, especially those with chronic problems. Our real challenge is to expand our perception broadly to include additional dimensions and to nurture our quality of touch to assist our clients to integrate themselves across the many levels of human consciousness.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.